In my mind, The Kidnapped Prince: The Life of Olaudah Equiano, adapted by Ann Cameron, is a must read for British and American elementary school students. It tells Olaudah Equiano’s story of capture, the Middle Passage, enslavement, betrayal, and his life long quest for education and independence. A more sensitive first grader than Bruce might have been too upset by parts of this book to read, but my son just listened with a very serious face.
Here’s a passage from page 32 about the separation of families in slave auctions that is especially sad:
“We had already lost our homes, our countries, and almost everyone we loved. The people who did the selling and buying could have done it without separating us from our very last relatives and friends. They already could live in riches from our misery and toil. What possible advantage did they gain from this refinement of cruelty? But they practiced it–and went to church on Sunday, and said that they were Christian.”
I had read the primary source book written by Equiano in college, but did not remember his story until I started reading The Kidnapped Prince with Bruce. The detail that triggered my memory was when Equiano sees flying fish off deck during the Middle Passage. I don’t know why I remembered the flying fish, but had blocked out the rest of the story.
If go back to my original goals for my SLE Inspired Reading List Part 2, the juxtaposition between enslavement of thoughts and actual slavery is really intense.
Learning Goals for Children
- We are all capable of thinking our own thoughts and forming our own ideas. We do not need to be slaves to the thinking of others.
- We are responsible for our own actions, and are accountable for our actions to our own conscious, our families, and our community. Many people in the world believe we are also accountable to God.
People didn’t just all of a sudden go out and capture slaves. There was a system of ideas they believed that made them think it was okay. Thinking patterns, (in this case evil thinking patterns), led to actual evil. No matter what your religious belief is, reading the story of how Equiano and his fellow slaves were treated makes you want those slave traders to be held accountable in a big way!
P.S. When Bruce is older I’d like him to watch the movie “Amazing Grace“. I don’t know if you have seen it or not, but it tells the story of William Wilberforce had his fight to make England abolish slavery. That movie made a very big impact on me, and I highly recommend it for people 13 years old and above.